It was party that Elton John would have been jealous of, it was an announcement that made a large part of the country very happy indeed.
Over the past few years Bacardi have tried various formats for the announcement of the UK winner of Legacy. We have had intimate sit-down dinners, slightly less intimate sit-down dinners, big events with the bartenders competing live with Joe Stokoe and his team running bars and sweating to keep up with demand. Every year has been great, one of the best nights of the industry year. Last night was spectacular, it simply was the best night of the industry year.
It wasn’t just about the UK, it was about the whole of Northern Europe, all of the winners announced in one all singing, all dancing event. Most of the bartenders (including all of the UK and Ireland competitors) had a mini bar set up and were pumping out samples of their Legacy drink.
They had competed the day before (more about that shortly) so it was their chance to show off their drink, lap up the plaudits, see their mates and have a damn good time. Sure their was half (or more) a thought on the impending announcement, flashbacks to what they could have changed about the day before, but in general the atmosphere was one of excitement, fun and pride.
The room was full of bartenders from the UK (the 2nd & 3rd placed competitor in each heat getting an all expenses paid trip down) and Europe catching up, gossiping and, of course, trying to guess who had emerged victorious.
The hard work had been done 24 hours earlier. Each bartender presenting their drink and their inspiration to a panel of judges. The descriptions of the process from each bartender had it sounding like something between a Simon Cowell wet dream and a scene from Twin Peaks.
They each described a big stage with lights so bright that they could see nothing past the bar in front of them. In the blackness sat the judges, unseen assassins, just the occasional giggle breaking the silence when a gag went well. No way to judge the impact they’d had, no way to really know that they hadn’t buggered off to the pub half way through.
Despite this everyone seemed happy with what they had done, and all had nailed their drinks so spirits were high and expectations, tempered, but equally so.
The drinks and conversation were flowing and the room almost forgot why they were there. Suddenly the lighting changed, the bodies starting moving towards one corner, the giant screen jumped into life and the, always glamorous, Shervene ‘Shev’ Shahbazkhani swept onto the stage.
Voices hushed and excitement levels grew as the introductions and thank you’s were done. Then the announcements started.
Winners were cheered, hugged and back slapped on their way to the bright lights to collect their trophies and begin the next stage of their journey. As the group of trophies diminished the UK announcement, last of the night, loomed.
The screen showed video snippets of the UK finalists journeys and the hopeful six – Geoff Robinson, Dan Berger, Joe Harper, Roisin Mc Erlean, Ben Alcock and Chris Edwards gathered on stage with Metherinadarkalleylasttuesday ‘May’ Kongsrivilai, arms round each other, and waited.
The announcement came and there was a second of silence before the face of the champion caught up with what had been said. Joe Harper from Gleneagles in Scotland had done it. The room went wild, his legs nearly gave up (again) and he was embraced by his fellow finalists and May.
We have said throughout this process, and repeatedly last night, that we had no clue who was going to win. Each one of the finalists were in with an equal shout and the faceless judges were given a really tough job, but Joe’s drink and story are both superb and it was certainly no surprise to us that he took the title.
Joe will be our representative in the Global Finals and he will be after your support in the coming months. Once you taste his drink and hear his chat you will undoubtedly be proud to have his drink on your menu, and we look forward to drinking many Pilar’s, in many bars soon.
The night continued and everyone had nothing but nice words to say about Joe and the competition in general. Once again the final six have become friends during the journey and I have no doubt the other five will be the first to offer their support.
A huge congratulations to all the finalists from the UK, Ireland and the rest of Northern Europe. A special shout out to Shev, May, Dickie ‘You Can’t Handle The Truth’ Cullimore and the rest of the Bacardi team for putting on such an amazing night.
We will leave the final words to Joe before we give you his specs so you can give it a try yourself.
‘Just such a huge surprise, the UK finalists this year were incredible and such an awesome bunch of people. So incredibly proud and honoured to be able to represent them going further.’
Joe Harper, Gleneagles Hotel, Gleneagles
- 40ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
- 30ml Rinquinquin a la Peche
- 20ml lime juice
- 20ml pineapple syrup (see notes for recipe)
- 6-8 mint leaves
- Top soda
Shake and fine strain into a coupette glass and garnish with a mint leaf.